THE U.S WAR:
The 11th of September 2001 was “The Day the World Changed.” The 2,977 deaths caused by al-Qaeda terrorists resulted in sweeping policy reforms and dominated U.S. politics for years. The United States went to war in Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban, and the subsequent attacks influenced the 2003 decision to invade Iraq. The United States initiated a variety of extreme counterterrorism operations, such as the use of armed drones to kill suspected terrorists, indefinite incarceration at the naval facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and even torture.
Domestically, the U.S. government jailed numerous American Muslims on dubious grounds and developed contentious monitoring operations.
Now that the Taliban has claimed their right in Afghanistan, Some say that the Taliban’s swift takeover demonstrates staying in Afghanistan is futile. How could a few extra months matter if we couldn’t beat them in 20 years? Many factors would keep America in Afghanistan indefinitely: an ascendant Taliban, an Afghan government intent on corruption and personal gain, and President Donald Trump’s Doha deal, which President Joe Biden inherited with a May deadline after which the Taliban would resume offensive operations against America. Given these facts, Biden made the prudent choice.
The US War:
The United States’ war in Afghanistan has ended, and Washington is moving on. The Biden administration will announce a new National Security Strategy and a new National Defense Strategy within a few months. Similar to its predecessors, the military policy is likely to emphasize the threat posed by China and Russia while downplaying the threat provided by international terrorism.
The defense analytical community will focus on the posture, capabilities, and concepts necessary to win the upcoming conflict.
Nevertheless, Afghanistan will continue to cast a shadow over all of these new arguments. The willingness to fight is the unquantifiable variable in every model of future conflict. Without it, the hardware of war, including all aircraft, tanks, and ships, is worthless, and all clever notions are merely theoretical.
And following the U.S. defeat, any assessment of American willingness to fight in any possible war between great powers must conclude with a question mark.
Even under the most favorable conditions, these upcoming wars are going to be a Herculean test of American willpower. A war with China over Taiwan or Russia over the Baltics would be militarily far more difficult than the war in Afghanistan or Iraq, and the economic devastation and casualties of these future wars could be orders of magnitude greater than those experienced by the United States during the global war on terrorism. And winning in these upcoming conflicts is more uncertain than it was in Afghanistan.
And so, the question has to be whether the United States will have more fortitude in future “forever wars” than it did in this last one, or whether, as time wears on, Americans will eventually say that a democratic Taiwan or a Europe “whole, free and at peace” is just not worth the price.
This article is written by Ms. Itrat Batool, who is studying International Relations at the National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad.